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Review: Snow Angels #3

Snow Angels #3

Snow Angels has been an amazing series. It has delivered tension, mystery, and a world that feels both hopeful and bleak. Set in a snow-covered trench, the story follows a father and his two daughters as they attempt to survive a massacre in their town by the mysterious Snowman. Snow Angels #3 delivers a confrontation with the Snowman as we discover more about the puzzling trench.

Jeff Lemire‘s plotting and writing has been fantastic. Like the snow-covered world itself, there’s a minimal aspect to his dialogue and what’s told to readers. We’re teased just enough to continue the story, never any more than what’s needed.

Snow Angels #3 particularly stands out as it features multiple striking moments, each toying with a different emotion. There’s a confrontation with the Snowman, something completely unexpected, and a reveal about the world and the trench. Tension, wonder, and confusion are presented at different moments taking the reader on a reading journey.

Lemire also delivers heart too. We get some very touching moments concerning this family as we learn why they’re three and we get more of their history. It’s information that adds depth to the characters and and much more child-like qualities to Mae and Milli. At its heart, the story is about a family trying to survive in a harsh world.

Jock‘s art continues to be amazing. Along with lettering of Steve Wands, the art is the usual breathtaking and brilliant. Since it’s set in a frozen world, there’s a limited amount you can do as far as color and background but the art nails it all. The use of whites and blues create a harsh environment. Details flesh out the situation and breathes more life than what you’d expect in a world of white sheets of snow. In particular, what happens to the Snowman is cold but beautiful at the same time.

Snow Angels #3 builds upon the story in so many ways. We learn more about our main characters. We learn more about the frozen world. There’s a focus on adding details while also delivering excitement and wonderment. It’s a fantastic continuation of a series that has me excited to see what’s happening next and where it all goes.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jock Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Other History of the DC Universe #3

The Other History of the DC Universe #3 is an interesting shift from the first two issues. This is more of a focus on the myth superheroes build about themselves with Katana as the focus. It’s a graphic essay and a graduate course in DC history.

Story: John Ridley
Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes: Andrea Cucchi
Color: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Steve Wands

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology
Zeus Comics
TFAW

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Scout Comics Imprint Black Caravan announces new horror comic Swamp Dogs

Black Caravan, the sci-fi/horror imprint for Scout Comics, has signed a deal to publish Swamp Dogs. To help promote Swamp Dogs, Black Caravan is embarking on a mystery campaign leading up to the release of an ashcan comic July 2021. Black Caravan will be distributing bookmarks featuring teasers leading up to July. Bookmarks will be included in all subscription boxes for Scout Comics and Black Caravan, as well as being distributed to comic shops around the U.S. The cover of issue 1, as well as a plot synopsis, will be revealed in July.

Swamp Dogs will begin with a 5-issue miniseries. Following the miniseries, Swamp Dogs will tentatively continue in phases that will include multiple ongoing series, future minis, and standalone issues.

The creative team behind Swamp Dogs has been announced as well. Kewber Baal is illustrating the book. Coloring the book is comic veteran Ruth Redmond. Letterer Steve Wands is a comic industry veteran with over 1400 credits to his name. Covers are being illustrated by Robert Sammelin. J.M. Brandt and Theo Prasidis will be co-writing the comic.

Swamp Dogs

Review: The Flash #768

The Flash #768

The Flash kicks off its Infinite Frontier run with Wally West taking center stage. It also stumbles right out of the block with a forgettable issue that feels like a filler arc. The Flash #768 has Wally West making the decision that he wants to hang up his suit to spend more time with his newly reunited family. And, to do that, he feels like he needs the Speed Force taken from him.

Writer Jeremy Adams delivers a story that’s just ok. There’s nothing bad about the comic but it also doesn’t deliver anything that really stands out. It takes what should be some solid concepts and distracts things with a time travel sci-fi comedy. While Wally and Barry race so Barry can suck the Speed Force from Wally, the Speed Force acts up. Wally is sent to the past for unknown reasons that are teased as the issue progresses. There’s a lighthearted take to it all and some comedic moments. But, the issue’s strength is the exploration of how Barry and Wally have approached their roles. That is far too short.

But, this is jus the opening chapter in this arc and it all might come together. Beyond Barry and Wally’s different approach to life there’s an interesting exploration of Barry and Wally’s attachment to the Speed Force. Barry has a better understanding but Wally has a greater attachment to it. Again, there’s potential.

The art races around with Brandon Peterson, Marco Santucci, and David Lafuente mixing things up as the story hops around time. Mike Atiyeh, Arif Prianto, and Luis Guerrero handle the colors. Steve Wands provides the lettering. The art is good but it lacks a certain sense of motion that has been a highlight of the art of the series for some time. While Wally and Barry race, there’s a lack of flow that makes the art feel more like a snapshot in time as opposed to enhancing the movement of the characters.

There’s some small details to enjoy in The Flash #768. A scene of Wally and Barry and Iris walking down the street has some great comments from those watching. There’s also a lighthearted and “fun” tone about the comic as well. It’s a throwback in some ways. Overall though, this is a starting arc that doesn’t excite enough to have readers coming back for more.

Story: Jeremy Adams Art: Brandon Peterson, Marco Santucci, David Lafuente
Color: Mike Atiyeh, Arif Prianto, Luis Guerrero Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Snow Angels #2

Snow Angels #2

In Snow Angels #1, I was a bit fixated on trying to figure out the world. Was it ours but frozen? Was it something else? In Snow Angels #2, I no longer care about those details. Instead, I’m focused, full of tension, and just rolling with the frozen horror story that Jeff Lemire, Jock, and Steve Wands have created.

The first issue ended with the shock revelation that their entire village has been slaughtered. In Snow Angels #2, Millie, Mae Mae, and their father come face-to-face with the killer Snowman for the first time! It’s a tense issue as the trio must hide or face being murdered by the unknown entity and force. Why did the Snowman kill so many? One of the three rules were broken but we don’t know by who or what. It’s just a part of the mystery of the story.

Lemire doesn’t give answers in this issue. Instead, only more questions are presented in what is a classic horror aspect. While the hunter stalks its prey, the bodies of the village are the only protection that exists keeping the reader on the edge of their seat wondering if the trio will be found and what their fate is.

Lemire also uses the situation to give us more about this world and their beliefs. While it adds some depth to everything it also adds so many unknowns as to exactly what’s going on. Teases of what lies ahead hint at the history and what we might experience in the comic. But, in its basic form, Snow Angels #2 is a classic slasher horror story with the unstoppable force hunting its prey.

Jock’s art continues to impress, as expected. The world is a white tomb and the art reflects that with a depressed, though not depressing style. The look of terror on the characters as the Snowman hunts, plus its hunting, deliver a tension that builds throughout the scene. It’s a classic horror scene and Jock nails it perfectly. There’s something to the colors as well. With a limitation to blues and whites, the eye focuses on what isn’t. In this case, it’s our trio, the Snowman, and the bodies lying about. It keeps the focus on what matters without distractions and creates greater fear through the feel of emptiness.

Steve Wands lettering too helps build that tension reflecting how loud or soft the talking is and each word muttered possibly betraying their position. Just the lettering existing on the page creates stress and fear oozing from the page.

Snow Angels #2 is a solid entry. It both builds on the world and makes you forget about it and focus. There’s an anxiety that builds through the issue to the very last panel. It has me wanting to see what’s next as soon as possible.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jock Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

ComiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: TKO Shorts: Night Train

Neal is having trouble sleeping. A new baby brother isn’t helping at all. Enter a mysterious spectral train with a ghostly conductor offering to solve Neal’s problems.

Story: Steve Foxe
Art: Lisandro Estherren
Color: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Steve Wands

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

comiXology
TKO Studios

TKO Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: TKO Shorts: The Father of All Things

It’s 1914 and the world is at war. Idealistic 14-year old Georg is ready to defend his country, but nothing could prepare him for the supernatural horrors that await beneath the trenches.

The Father of All Things is an intriguing story about the horrors of war, part of TKO StudiosTKO Shorts.

Story: Sebastian Gimer
Art: Baldemar Rivas
Letterer: Steve Wands

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

comiXology
TKO Studios

TKO Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Snow Angels #1

Snow Angels #1

One of the most anticipated comics for me in early 2021 is Snow Angels #1. Announced in October 2020, the comiXology Original comic features Jeff Lemire and Jock, two creators whose work I regularly enjoy. A 10-part digital comic series, the debut issue introduces us to a brutal wintery and frozen world.

In the debut issue, we’re introduced to Milliken, Mae, as well as their father. The trio are members of The Trenchfolk, a settlement of people that live in The Trench? What is that exactly? While we’re not quite sure, it’s presented as an endless trench carved into a wintery world. The Trench is endless but it also provides and those living within it must never leave. Outside it lives The Colden Ones, their frozen gods. But within lives a danger in The Snowman, the Trench’s deadly defender.

Snow Angels #1 is an interesting debut that teases much of the world and keeps things very focused. We take the world for what it’s presented as by Milliken, Mae, and their father. There could be a sprawling civilization just outside the Trench but we’d never know. They believe nothing lies beyond it and accept this as fact. So, we the reader does as well. The comic presents itself as one of belief and faith and we the readers are sucked into this narrative religion as we must believe the truth presented by our trio of lead character.

Lemire’s opening introduction to the world is cold and barren. We’re isolated and focused on the trio and the tight focus delivers an emptiness to what’s presented. It’s a bleak existence and you can feel the freezing land through the digital screen.

That’s helped by the work of Jock whose art builds the world. The settings are limited but intriguing. The art and design really build the mystery of the world with small details that beg the reader to explore. There’s only so much you can do with a snowy world, but Jock finds an opportunity to add details to add a lot of character to the snowy surroundings. The lettering by Steve Wands helps build the atmosphere as well. There’s something about the dialogue that feels minimal, a constricted style that befits the tightness one feels enmeshed in snow and surrounded by cold.

Snow Angels #1 is an intriguing debut. We both do and don’t know a lot about this world. We’re presented the “rules” of it all but teased there’s so much more. Then, you get to the end and get a feeling the series is going in a whole other direction. With this creative team, it’s not surprising the debut is so good. It’s a mystery that sucks you in to its wintery nightmare.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jock Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindle

Get a First Look at Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger and Sara Kipin

Just in time for Pride Month, DC has tapped acclaimed author Kody Keplinger and artist Sara Kipin to reimagine Poison Ivy—one of DC’s most popular antiheroes—in Poison Ivy: Thorns, a new teen romance with a gothic-horror twist.

There’s something unusual about Pamela Isley––the girl who hides behind her bright red hair. The girl who won’t let anyone inside to see what’s lurking behind the curtains. The girl who goes to extreme lengths to care for a few plants. Pamela Isley doesn’t trust other people, especially men. They always want something from her. Something she’s not willing to give.

When cute goth girl Alice Oh comes into Pamela’s life after an accident at the local park, she makes Pamela feel like pulling back the curtains and letting the sunshine in. But there are dark secrets deep within the Isley house. Secrets Pamela’s father has warned must remain hidden. Secrets that could turn deadly and destroy the one person who ever cared about Pamela, or as her mom preferred to call her…Ivy.

Will Pamela open herself up to the possibilities of love, or will she forever be transformed by the thorny vines of revenge?

Poison Ivy: Thorns marks both Keplinger and Kipin’s first graphic novel and first work with DC. It features colors by Jeremy Lawson and lettering by Steve Wands. The book is available to preorder now and hits stores everywhere books are sold on June 1, 2021.

Poison Ivy: Thorns
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